This Thursday, June 1, the U.S. decided to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Like Brexit, the process is not like instant coffee; if anything, it is much more of a slow brew to which one could add harvesting or even growing the coffee in the first place. To prevent disruption for other members, it calls for a period of delay and negotiation taking four years. Therefore the final decision will rest on the president’s successor — unless the voters elect Mr. Trump to a second term.
The leaders of France and Germany were clearly prepared, for within minutes of Mr. Trump’s statement they issued their own, calling the accords “irreversible” and “non-negotiable”. What do they mean? Well, perhaps they were referring to the fact that the Paris agreement is voluntary. Nations voluntarily try to meet certain goals. There is no mandate and no sanction if they do not. As usual, Mr. Trump is making a point — for his supporters and detractors alike. It also diminishes the accord if the world’s largest economy and second largest polluter leaves.
But here’s the twist: His absence at the table means he will not be able to impede progress for the other 190-plus members as they proceed without him.
Trump’s distinguishing feature is a history of crudeness in behavior and rhetoric. Its effect is a coarseness in society — a coarseness reflected in talk and action. People feel free to say and do things previously considered unacceptable.
LeBron James is a world famous basketball player with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that won the NBA championship in 2016 and is at present in the finals. On Thursday, someone spray painted the derogatory N-word on the gate of his palatial Los Angeles home. As Mr. James noted, it’s ‘difficult to be black in America’. He worries about his son, eligible to drive in four years and his getting stopped by police.
Just a few days prior, on May 27, aboard a light rail train in Portland, Oregon, a man began haranguing Destinee Mangum just 16 years old and her Muslim friend, who was wearing a hijab. He yelled at them, ‘to get out of the country’ that they ‘weren’t anything and should kill themselves’ and so on. Three men who tried to intervene were stabbed violently and efficiently. Two died, the third was lucky as the blade missed his jugular by millimeters. No comment on such a horrendous incident from President Trump; that is until the mother of one of the dead victims specifically asked him to condemn the incident. The perpetrator Jeremy Joseph Christian is a white supremacist.
Since Mr. Trump’s campaign began, hate crimes against Muslims have seen an exponential increase — a 67 percent rise in 2016 over 2015.
Ann Coulter is an extreme right wing columnist who after the Manchester bombing wrote an article presenting three recommendations to prevent something similar in the U.S. First, she wants to extend Trump’s visa ban by six months; second, to deport the judge who said it was illegal; and third, to nuke a capital of a Muslim country every time an incident occurs.
How ridiculous can one get, but these columns are loved by the alt-right and of course the likes of Jeremy Joseph Christian. The visa ban was considered unconstitutional by the lower court (the judge she mentions) and the appeals court. It is not in effect, so how can it be extended. The judge she wants to deport is a native-born American citizen. Where would she deport him to?
In advocating the nuking of a Muslim capital, she betrays a purposeful ignorance that only goes to prove her hate-mongering credentials. Daesh (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the bombing. All Muslim governments are opposed to Daesh, and several are actively fighting against it including Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq. Bombing the enemies of Daesh is not only asinine but reveals a visceral, across-the-board, anti-Muslim racism unacceptable even in the post 9/11 George Bush era. So why doesn’t a Twittering Trump condemn it?
That a certain level of crudeness prevails has been evident from the early beginnings. After the Obama Administration and his cabinet officials left office, Sally Quillian Yates, the No.2, was sworn in as Acting Attorney General, while Trump chose his appointee and had him confirmed by the Senate. She was a respected 27-year veteran of the Justice Department. When she informed the president that his anti-Muslim visa ban was, in her opinion, illegal and she could not enforce it, she expected trouble but not quite what happened.
A senior Trump appointee in the Justice Department walked into her office and handed her a letter informing her she had been fired. She had also warned the White House about how compromised General Michael Flynn was. He later resigned as National Security Advisor. As Ms. Yates put it, she knew her last job was very temporary but she did not quite expect to leave that way after 27 years.
Looking back it is fairly obvious she was right on both counts. A President Trump would look less of a fool or bigot had he listened to her.
The firing of FBI Director James Comey does not just look bad for Mr. Trump, failing as it does the smell test, but it breaks Lyndon Johnson’s pithy rule. He never fired J. Edgar Hoover because he said, he’d ‘rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in’.
So here we are, a little over four months into the Trump term and there is turmoil in Europe, NATO member Turkey is chummier with Russia, North Korea blasts off a missile each week and at home one can observe a developing DisUnited States of America. At its head a President whose manner and behavior are prisoners of his own past history.
Dr Arshad M Khan (http://ofthisandthat.org/index.html) is a former Professor based in the U.S. whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and electronic media. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record.